Archive for the ‘inspiring places’ Category
September 13, 2013 in inspiring places
We visit our little holiday house by the sea that my grandfather built every year. It is part of my childhood memory and now is part of my children’s too. The old walled city of Zadar on mainland Croatia has many beautiful buildings in different states of repair and is laced with Roman and Venetian history.
On the one rainy day of our holiday we visited the city and popped in to see an art exhibition, where the entrance fees contribute to the on-going restoration. They are in the process of returning it to its former glory but I just loved the faded colours, the grand stairways and the layers of paint and textures of different building materials that had been revealed – and by chance my daughter’s clothes were of a similar tone. Elsewhere there are beautiful un-restored stone balconies and carved stonework amid the modernity, that bring joy to everyday life.
Ancient Catholic churches and towers remain, and one of my favourite things – the flagstone-paved streets, polished smooth over time by thousands of local feet.
We will have to revisit next year and see how much progress they have made.
August 8, 2013 in food, inspiring places
Going through my photographic archives I discovered these images that I took last year on holiday. One of the most wonderful things about our Summer time in Croatia is the fresh simple delicious food. This fish came direct from the local fishing boats to the village market the morning they were photographed. They were barbecued for our lunch accompanied with salads and fresh bread. What especially caught my eye was the beautiful silvery tone of their skin.
These shells with a pearlescent interior are known locally as Peter’s ears and can be found in the bay we swim in if you snorkel for long enough. I dived for them like treasure as a child, much like my children do now too, their silvery inside catching the light under the water.
Mussels can be bought in the village market if you are lucky and early enough and I just loved their deep, inky colour; another delicious lunch.
We are travelling to our little house on the bay this week to dive for treasures and swim in the deep blue sea.
I have been using Instagram over the last few months and will try to post a few photos while I’m away and when we have access to wifi in cafés. If you would like to see what I’m up to you can follow me at instagram.com/saniapell.
I’ll be back soon with lots of exciting news of what I’ve been up to over the last few months. It’s all been hush, hush but I will be able to tell all soon. x
July 8, 2013 in inspiring places
This is the final installment of my family’s travels to Australia and Singapore. I took these images in Little India, the area where we stayed. Of out two days in Singapore we spent half a day wandering around temples, markets and soaking up the atmosphere. It was a little taster of India for the family and a reminder to me of a country I visited a long time ago.
As in India, the colours were so vibrant and interesting, the buildings charming in their detail and the temples enthralling in their story-telling through paintings and sculptures on walls and ceilings. Small shrines on street corners and, as in every area of Singapore, people enjoying street food. The street market was my favourite area with vegetables piled high and flowers strung in garlands.
After an adventure like this I still feel refueled and recharged. The joy of visiting friends on the other side of the world and experiencing a taste of Australia and Singapore will stay with us all for years to come.
July 3, 2013 in inspiring places
We spent a day exploring the temples and markets of Chinatown, a large area in Singapore, where we felt totally immersed in a different culture. We were all enthralled by the tranquility of the temples, the smells of incense, local people worshipping and the bright colours and patterns all around us. I was drawn to photograph the details, colours, illustrations and shapes and hopefully they give a little glimpse into this amazing place.
The markets were full of interesting objects, fans, instruments, beads and strung overhead with lanterns. We embraced the Chinese food halls and queued with locals for delicious savoury main courses and fruit smoothies blended in front of us. Wonderful combinations of dragon fruit with kiwi, mango and passion fruit, watermelon, strawberry and rose and sugarcane with lime. We became quite adventurous in our choices which the children loved and the colours of these juices were spectacular.
June 29, 2013 in flowers, inspiring places
The tropical colours of Singapore were amazing as we passed through gardens and areas like Chinatown and Little India: Hot pinks, citrus oranges and acid greens, sky blues and metallic golds. Flowers were everywhere, popping out against the urban landscape along roadsides, in parks, temples and for sale on market stalls.
I’ve loved using a close-up macro lens and playing with depth of field since I bought my first 35mm SLR film camera whilst at art college, and flowers are my perfect muse for this kind of abstraction. I can’t help myself and find wherever I travel I am drawn to photographing flowers, so in Singapore I was in heaven.
June 11, 2013 in flowers, inspiring places
Singapore was the most wonderful place to stop over on our way home from Australia. We broke up our return journey with a two day visit to this amazing city. We had heard some reports of it feeling a little sterile, but we found it fascinating and absolutely loved it. They have embraced modern architecture (we felt as if we were part of a science fiction film set at times) and, in contrast, other parts of the city felt like you were immersed in the old mysterious Orient.
Our first stop was the newly opened Gardens by the Bay. The Cloud Forest dome was fantastic with a 90 foot waterfall cascading from the man-made mountain inside, mossy trees nearby and walls filled vertically with an enormous range of tropical plants and flowers. There must have been every type of Orchid in all shapes, sizes and colours. The mists were ‘switched on’ at various times and the whole dome enclosed you in its artificial cloud which my children absolutely loved. The Flower Dome next door was also wonderful.
There were also towering, tree-like sculptural metal structures with plants growing upwards around their trunks. The walkway linking these metal trees allowed great views across the gardens but even these towers, which felt high from the top, were dwarfed by the huge hotel next door – The Marina Bay Sands.
We walked through the Heritage Gardens, over the foot bridge and took the lift to the 58th floor observation deck where the view was out of this world, across the city and out over the bay; tankers in the shipping lanes below us looked like ants and the sheer volume of them was unexpected.
I love the juxtaposition of tropical flowers with modern buildings and Singapore did this so well.
May 20, 2013 in inspiring places, interior styling
From Sydney we flew up to Cairns in Queensland, hired a car and drove an hour North to the sweet, relaxed seaside town of Port Douglas. It was the perfect location to visit the Great Barrier Reef and explore the Daintree Rainforest. The vibe was quite different to Sydney, but I loved its relaxed charm.
The wonderful use of corrugated tin and wooden planking as textural building materials, either painted and smart or untreated and raw, rusting patina next to weathered wood. In a local bar, where we watched cane toad racing, the rusting tin was juxtaposed against twinkling chandeliers and more utilitarian ceiling fans and pendant lights. An unexpected and successful combination.
It was the wet season when we visited and with this comes rain, short heavy bursts of it. Looking through the car window there were rain specks dotted all over, rather like here in London but the views were however quite different. I couldn’t help snapping away as we drove the coastal highway, continuing my ‘through the window‘ series on another continent.
Wonderful palm trees swaying in the wind, fields of sugar cane and the most beautiful sea views and skys. Heavenly.
May 10, 2013 in handmade goodness, inspiring places
Another shop that I was really looking forward to visiting in Sydney was Mud. Their store at 134 Edgecliff Road in Woollahra was close to where we were staying, so I popped in to have a browse and take some snaps. I often use their handmade porcelain plates, bowls and cups when styling commercial photo shoots, drawn to it at the prop houses by the beautiful soft colours and mix of matt and gloss finishes.
I bought a little ceramic beaker as a memento of my visit to the shop and would have bought much more if I hadn’t been worried about the pieces getting damaged during the flights on the remainder of our trip.
You can see and find out more on the Mud Australia website.
The Mud website lists only three UK stockists; The Conran Shop, Designers Guild and Zecca, who amazingly is only a 10 minute walk from my house! I will be popping along there soon to see what they have in stock.
For now though I am happy with my little piece of Mud on display.
April 30, 2013 in inspiring places, interior styling
Sydney is full of interesting and exciting independent shops without the mass of high street chain shops thet we have here in the UK. One Thursday morning I visited a shop I have wanted to visit for a long time: The Society Inc, stylist and author Sibella Court’s shop at 18 Stewart Street, Paddington. With time restrictions on us, my husband and son went off with the camera to Deus Ex Machina, a shop he has been lusting at from afar for a long time too, and I headed to Sibella’s store with our daughter, armed only with my iPhone to take snaps (so please excuse the quality).
Having viewed the shop online from London it was a treat to visit, a treasure trove of curiosities and useful every day handy items. It was a small shop packed to the rafters with interesting bits and bobs, a combination of vintage, utility and sparkly. Everywhere your eye turned a new goodie was spotted. There was also a beautiful selection of paint designed by The Society Inc for Murobond, colours changing each quarter to transport you to different ‘societies’. I chatted with lovely Hannah in the store who kindly let me take these photos.
Sibella is a stylist and author whose work I admire and her books, Etcetera, Nomad and Bowerbird, are a joy to look through and a pleasure to have on my shelves, now even more so after visiting her gorgeous shop. If you are ever in Sydney do drop by.
Of course I came home wih a few treats, including a sparkly item that now sits on my mantlepiece glinting in the sun. I think I must be part magpie, part bowerbird.
April 25, 2013 in inspiring places
We are back home after having had the most fantastic time in Australia. We spent the first week in Sydney visiting friends and it was truly wonderful to catch up with them all. We saw many of the sights: the Rocks, the Bridge, the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, Anish Kapoor at the Museum of Contemporary Art (which we all loved) and many more. I managed to fit in a browse around some of the shops, but there were so many more I would have loved to visit. The weather was beautiful and we spent as much time on the beach as we did exploring the city. My son started surfing and if we weren’t on the beach, he was asking when we would be. Bondi became our local and we also walked to Bronte, had sushi at Watson’s Bay and took the ferry to Manly.
I took these photos as I wandered around Paddington and Woollahra with my camera, close to the lovely house where we stayed. These late 19th Century buildings were beautiful, the iron work like lace and the patterned shadows they created so delicate. Now gentrified and fashionable, the area has a creative and stylish feel. The architectural planting and satin silver house numbers made the Victorian homes contemporary rather than twee, and the newer colour choices were all dark, moody and sublime and the few coloured facades had faded to dusky tones. I could have walked around the area for hours more.
I found myself photographing the details, tones and patterns created by these homes but I hope this gives you a little feel for this beautiful part of Sydney.
February 3, 2013 in inspiring places
One freezing morning last month, I caught an early train out of London to look at a location for a magazine shoot I have been working on. The countryside was covered in frost and the fields whizzed before my eyes. I love how the landscape became pastel, the colours watered down by the layer of frost. Trees disappeared, fading into the distance, becoming ghostly in the damp, foggy air. I took these images through the window of the train, capturing fleeting moments of time on a chilly English morning.
Taking photos through windows and abstracting the landscape has become a regular thing I do on long journeys now. It began through the car window whilst visiting Tate Modern one rainy day and from the train on my family trip to Edinburgh last October. I have some more images through the windows of a boat, taken on a family day trip over Christmas, that I will post soon too.
December 19, 2012 in handmade goodness, inspiring places
Every year I decorate my tree in a mixture of these charming handmade Croatian decorations called ‘licitar’. This year is no different with the children helping me to hang them, carefully placing the galloping horses around the bottom branches of the tree. The top of the tree, where the children cannot reach, is hung with the smaller hearts, all slightly different, bought and collected over the years as our trees have grown to fit the spaces we live in. I have bought more of these gorgeous decorations every time I visit Zagreb.
They remind me of my childhood too. We always decorated the tree on Christmas Eve to the sound of Croatian carol singing and these decorations are unique to the Zagreb area. I love their homemade, naive and folkloric quality and I have not seen anything quite the same anywhere else. They are made from a type of honey dough, dipped in a red glaze and intricately decorated with fine piped icing, mirrors added for a little sparkle and sometimes a touch of découpage too. I painted this freehand Christmas tree on to a blank canvas for a bit of fun and to make it a feature.
They can be bought in various shapes and sizes such as hearts, horses, horseshoes, boots, birds, cherries and wreathes, and although they are sometimes referred to as gingerbread they don’t in fact contain any ginger.
Amazingly their origin dates back to the 16th century where decorated cakes were made in convents, in intricately carved moulds, and were sold in fairs and church festivals. In 2010 this style of Croatian craft was added to a UNESCO heritage list in order to help preserve its cultural significance. Nowadays the heart shapes are also given at Valentine’s Day and ‘volim te’ means ‘I love you’ in Croatian.
You can have a go at making your own if these inspire you, it shows how they are made here and you can buy them direct from Zagreb here.
I hope you like them as much as I do, they really are one of my favourite things.
Sretan Božić! (HappyChristmas!)